Calling In Folks Who Spread Violent, Hurtful Lies and Memes About People of Difference
Just today a gay friend and MKP brother who looks to me as an ally asked me to formulate an “informed response” (his words) to the meme below he got from a family member (described as white, straight, and conservative Christian) on his Facebook page. Many of my friends who are in oppressed groups are weary of receiving such posts constantly. They perceive them (rightfully so!) as violent attacks on their being, their right to exist and to have a voice. They often rely on their allies to fend off such attacks. Here’s the meme:
“YOU KNOW FOLKS , I never cared that you were gay, until you started
shoving it down my throat, and I never cared what color you were ,till you
started blaming me for your problems ,and I never cared about
your political affiliation ,until you started condemning me for mine. I
really never even cared where you were born, until you wanted to erase
my history, and blame my ancestors for your problems you know I never
even cared if your beliefs were different than mine, until you said my
beliefs were wrong, but now I care, my patience and tolerence are gone, and I
am not alone in feeling like this, there are millions of us who feel like this”
(Note: All misspellings and punctuation mistakes were in the original post.)
After reading this meme, I breathed for a while, felt my own frustration and tiredness, realized that this was nothing in comparison to what my friend must have felt, then stepped into my allyship by formulating this response:
“YOU KNOW, WHITE, STRAIGHT, conservative Christian folks who wrote and shared this meme, you are, at best, completely oblivious to your actions and words and, at worst, liars who hide behind ridiculous, uninformed memes such as the one you so thoughtlessly and hurtfully sent me. Sound harsh? Well, here’s my truth:
OF COURSE, you care if I am gay. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t pray in churches that preach that people like me are abominations, you wouldn’t support laws and policies and institutions that exclude LGBTQ folks, you wouldn’t support the abhorrent “Don’t say Gay” bills being considered (or passed already) by many states, not to mention the hundreds of anti-trans bills that viciously attack the very children you say you love and you wouldn’t assume that folks like me and folks who are allies for me are ‘groomers’.
OF COURSE, you care what color I am. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t have supported laws that kept folks of color from owning homes for decades, you wouldn’t support laws restricting voting and gerrymandering that protects white officials almost exclusively, and you wouldn’t turn a blind eye towards the fact that two unarmed black folks are killed every DAY by police in this country, and you wouldn’t chant “Blue lives matter” when black folks attempt to show you how deeply and systemically racist our society is by protesting.
OF COURSE, you care about my political affiliation. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t support your party so vociferously, you wouldn’t turn a blind eye to your own party’s vocal support of misogyny, overt racism, overt antisemitism, and overt homophobia, you wouldn’t express hatred so easily at anyone who is different from you and you wouldn’t buy into ridiculous beliefs that all liberals are evil and ungodly, and you wouldn’t hold onto the easily debunked belief that people like me somehow ‘stole’ the last presidential election.
OF COURSE, you cared where I was born. If you didn’t, you wouldn’t support laws making immigration so difficult, you wouldn’t chant “Build the wall” constantly, you wouldn’t support policies like separating children from their families at the border, you wouldn’t believe ‘White replacement’ was a real thing and you wouldn’t vilify those who want to pass DACA.
I didn’t care that your beliefs were different from mine until you tried to pass laws that made me and folks like me invisible, until you started believing sad, ridiculous conspiracy theories and until you attacked our nation’s Capital and tried to overthrow our government, but now I care. My patience is gone. I won't tolerate intolerance any longer. And I am not alone in feeling this way. I am surrounded by many millions of wonderful folks who see me, love me, and care about me and act as allies to folks like me. Together, we are by far the majority in this nation. We care about each other deeply and- whether you know it or not, we care about you, too.
The truth is your discomfort at my very existence and my voice is not my problem nor my work. I ask you to seek out my cis, straight, white allies to continue this conversation, as I am weary from fending off constant attacks from folks like you. And, frankly, I'm too busy living a full and fabulous life!”
Friends, I recognize that my job as an ally and advocate is to breathe through my own exhaustion and use my many privileges to fend off the hurtful rhetoric and actions of folks like me who attack folks I support. In other words, as Dr. Bettina Love says, to ‘put my hand on the pole’ to use my privilege to make a difference! So, I promised my friend to publish this piece so more folks could read it.
I was gratified to receive this comment from my friend after I sent him my piece, “Rick, absolutely brilliant! I’m so grateful to have allies, friends and people like you in my life.”
To my understanding, that’s how allyship is supposed to work. I can use my white, cis, hetero, male privilege to support my gay, BIPOC, trans and female friends by speaking up and ‘calling in’ folks who think differently from me. It felt great to put my hand on the poll today. I invite you to find ways to do so, too.